Using KPIs and Reporting to Meet Your Association's Goals

It’s no secret that data-driven associations create exceptional member experiences by harnessing the power of their data to make informed decisions. But, what kind of metrics are they using to guide their decisions? Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a way for associations to get insight into their performance and their ability to accomplish their mission. When your association identifies your KPIs before beginning any initiative, you’re able to align your day-to-day work with longer-term goals, identify and scale best practices for future initiatives, and pull the correct reports from your data to give insight into your performance. 

 
Identifying the Right KPIs for Your Association’s Goals 

Have you ever gone to report a new initiative back to your board, only to be met with questions about the data or success of your work? Maybe you didn’t identify your goals from the beginning, making it harder to track your data and results. KPIs can help.

KPIs are metrics that allow your association to get insight into your member’s behavior or the health of your association. Before starting any new initiative or campaign, it’s important to pick out the right KPIs. That way, you're able to start looking at the proper data and measuring your progress from day one. For example, if your goal is to get more members at your next event, one KPI would be to “Increase web traffic to the events page by 20% in the month leading up to the event.” Then, you could track which of these website visitors are new or returning, and send targeted email campaigns to those who keep returning to the event website but haven’t registered yet. 

One thing to note is the difference between leading and lagging metrics. Leading indicators “lead” you in successfully meeting your goals and predict future conditions. Lagging indicators measure your current performance. In the last example, website visitors are a leading indicator – if the number of visitors to your event website increases, the expected outcome is a higher number of registrants. Event registrations are the lagging indicator here, if the number is low, it’s hard to affect since it’s based on a lot of things that happened in the past. In general, you should control leading indicators (or take action) and monitor the lagging ones. 

Other examples of measurable KPIs for associations include:

    • Membership retention rate
    • Membership loss rate
    • Membership life expectancy (based on loss rate)
    • Membership growth quarter over quarter
    • Ratio of membership dues income to non-dues income
    • Membership cost to value ratio (the estimated value a member gets in benefits versus the cost of the membership)
    • Member lifetime value (based on average dues + non-dues revenue per member and the average membership lifespan)
    • Prospect to member conversion ratio
    • Member acquisition cost (how much do we spend to recruit a new member)
    • Members by age range (how much of your membership is getting close to retirement)
    • Event pacing (how many people have registered by week leading up to an event this year vs. last)

Remember, it’s important that your team agrees on the metric and method of measuring before starting the work to measure it. That way, you’re ensuring that the KPI and subsequent data are easily digestible and make sense to the whole team. 

Make sure that your KPIs are attainable. It’s great to have high goals, but if the goal is unrealistic, you’ll be frustrated by never reaching them or have less progress to report to your board. We have an inherent bias to make excuses for data that doesn’t perform how we want it to. When you set up conversations beforehand about the next steps if an initiative doesn’t quite perform the way expected, you’re able to avoid those “well, it’s not quite what we hoped but…” conversations. 

Know that KPIs are forever changing and need to be re-evaluated frequently. Things change, campaigns are re-adjusted, or the world changes – no big deal, just make sure your KPIs still align. Every association operates similarly, but differently so tailor your KPIs to fit your individual needs and goals. 

Once your KPIs are identified, it’s time to get to work. As you work towards your goals, make sure to consistently track the progress by using a reporting tool. 

 

Using a Reporting Tool to Get Accurate Insight Into Your Progress

Identifying your goals and setting KPIs is just the beginning. Goals are great but become meaningless if you’re not able to accurately measure them. Reports allow you to know the health of your association at any time and give visibility on your progress to the board. 

When you have a built-in, customizable reporting tool in your AMS, you’re able to have a deeper understanding of your data. Since the reporting tool lives in the place where all of your data is, it’s more comprehensive, spanning multiple departments and business functions. If your AMS is integrated with other apps and tools you’re using, you’ll be able to see that data, too. 

Even the best program or initiative won’t perform as well without measurable KPIs set in place before your team hits the ground running. Move forward confidently, with the goals set in place and the tools to measure the results. Now, you can report back to the rest of your team and board with real data to celebrate, or use to pivot to the next step.

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